Monday, July 03, 2006

Job interviews: 'What are your weaknesses?'

Interviews - love 'em or hate 'em, you can't get away from them. Of course you're ready to tell the interviewers about your strengths. But are you sure you're prepared for questions about your weaknesses?

In my experience as an interviewer, too many candidates bungle this question!

Being unable to describe any weaknesses suggests to the interviewers that you lack self-awareness or are a bit egotistical - are you really saying that you are completely perfect at everything that you do?

Whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of vomiting forth one of the tired old cliches about your weaknesses such as 'I'm a bit of a perfectionist' or 'I don't tolerate fools gladly'. It sounds rehearsed and could be interpreted as a failure to want to be critical about yourself.

Make sure you prepare an answer to this terribly common question. Pick a couple of minor weaknesses that are of little relevance to the job. For example, if a job involves a lot of contact with customers and colleagues, you could say that you get bored when you have to spend a lot of time working on your own. If you manage a team, you could explain how you ensure that at least one member of your team is strong where you are weak.

Oh, and be ready for the common follow-up question: 'What have you done to address your weaknesses?' Be ready to describe the actions or steps you take to ensure that your weaknesses don't affect your performance at work.